Condos Save Citys Home Sales for January

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Northern Virginia home sales started the year by continuing their winning streak, with gains in all categories for January 2009 as compared to the same month last year, according to the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors in its latest report for the area including the City of Alexandria and Fairfax County. In the City of Alexandria alone, however, only condo sales rose, as compared to the same month in 2008.

January sales soared by 39.39 percent for the Northern Virginia region, with a total of 998 units sold. This followed the 25.94 percent rise for December, when 1,510 homes were purchased. The January increases included hikes of 40.47 percent for single-family homes, 57.21 percent for townhouses and 21.30 for condos, to totals of 420, 316 and 262 respectively.

For December, the gains had been 24.67, 36.53 and 17.89 percent, with 667, 441 and 402 units sold. The average number of days on the market provided more positive news, with that number dropping by 19.51 percent in January to a total of 99. The previous month, that number had dropped by 10.68 percent to 92.

The median sales price for Northern Virginia fell by 20 percent in January, to $320,000. It had dropped by 22.29 percent in December, to $340,000.

The January picture was not so bright for the City of Alexandria, where only condo sales posted gains of 41 percent, to a total of 48 units sold. Single-family home sales fell by 10 percent, to a total of nine. Townhouse sales sank by 38 percent, to 18.

This continued the trend shown in December, when condo sales rose by 4 percent, to a total of 70. This was matched by declines of 3 and 4 percent for single-family homes and townhouses, respectively, to 29 and 45 units purchased.

During both months, condo median prices had shown the greatest declinespointing, as always, to a more balanced market for them. They dropped by 22 percent for January, to $240,500. For the same month, they fell by 10 percent for single-family homes, to $515,000, while rising by 2 percent for townhouses, to $521,000.

In December, the median condo price had dropped by 13 percent, to $268,500. The other two categories had both shown 5 percent declines, to $680,000 for detached homes and $499,900 for townhouses.

A two-bedroom, two-bath, eighth-floor unit in the Watergate at Landmark high-rise complex helps show how city condos tempted buyers with the January median price. The unit is listed at $240,000 with Robert Blitzer of RE/MAX Allegiance (703-824-4800).

Built in 1975, the community features a swimming pool, tennis court, putting green and community center. The schools are Samuel W. Tucker Elementary, Francis C. Hammond Middle and T.C. Williams High.

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